|Don's Home Religion Religion and the brain|
There are many books and papers on Religion and the human psyche or brain or neuroscience.
Brain research is finally allowing us to ask some truly interesting questions: Where do emotions come from and why do we have them? How do we think and learn? Though final answers are still a long way off, it is significant that we can now begin to frame such questions in a scientific way.
Since Hippocrates proposed the mind was in the brain and not the heart in the 4th century BC there have been a lot of questions but few answers on how it works:
In late 1997, an unusual story about the discovery of a "God-spot" in the brain began to appear in newspapers and newsmagazines. In a series of tests, epileptic patients with heightened brain activity in the temporal lobe showed hypersensitivity to religious words and phrases.
Researchers had indeed found a region of the brain that could be linked to religious experience, but they neither claimed that this region was the cause of all such experiences nor sought to disparage or "reduce" religion or religious experience.
The physiological basis for this is the fact that the emotional limbic system, and particularly the amygdala, which is responsible for integrating intense emotional feelings of paranoia and ecstasy associated with survival and threats to survival, is situated alongside the limits of the temporal lobe, which processes semantic meaning and its significance. Thus excitations linking the two could result in a simultaneous experience of extreme fulfillment and intense significance - equating to a profound religious, or mystical experience.
There are common beliefs amongst most religions:
Wade3 says the fact that religious behavior is unusually strong suggests it is in our genes.
D'Onofrio2 says twin studies show it is "moderately" influenced by genetic factors.
Evolutionary scientists have suggested that belief in God, which is a common trait found in human societies around the world and throughout history, may be built into the brain's complex electrical circuitry as a Darwinian adaptation to encourage co-operation between individuals. [the-messiahs-blog.blogspot.com]
Need to find meaning:
Jennifer Whitson a psychologist at the University of Texas Austin performed an experiment where people were given a test, some were given answers that made sense and others were given random answers. Then they were shown images of white noise and asked if they saw a pattern. The people who were given the random answers so they felt they were not in control of their surroundings tended to find patterns more frequently than the others.
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